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UTEP Soccer To Play Host To FAU In “Orange Out” Game Sunday

The UTEP soccer team will play host to Florida Atlantic in its annual “Orange Out” contest at 12 p.m. MDT Sunday. Fans who wear orange will get in free for the game between the Miners (11-5-2, 4-4 Conference USA) and the Owls (9-6-2, 5-2-1 Conference USA).

Additionally there will be a post-game soccer clinic.

“We are very excited to play at home after two long road trips,” UTEP head coach Kevin Cross said. “We finish the season with two crucial home games. Florida Atlantic, who we play on Sunday, is one of the top teams in Conference USA. They are very well coached and have an excellent defense. UTEP Soccer will be ready for the challenge. We look forward to playing in front of our fans. After the game on Sunday, we have a soccer clinic for any youth players attending the game.”

Final Homestand Kicks Off

UTEP will look to wrap up its regular season in style while also aiming to clinch a spot in the 2016 Conference USA championships by playing host to Florida Atlantic (12 p.m. MDT Sunday) and Southern Miss (7 p.m. MDT Friday) this week. The Miners are 6-2 on the year at home and have been buoyed by a C-USA best 562 fans per match.

Rundown On The C-USA Standings

The regular-season is winding down and teams are still jockeying for position and striving to lock up bids to the 2016 Conference USA Women’s Soccer Championships (Nov. 2-6, Charlotte, N.C.). WKU (7-2, 21 points), North Texas (6-1, 18 points) and Rice (6-2, 18 points) have clinched a spot in the tournament but it is quite jumbled after that. Charlotte (5-2-1, 16 points) and FAU (5-2-1, 16 points) are tied for fourth while UTEP (4-4, 12 points) and Louisiana Tech (4-3, 12 points) share sixth.

Marshall has a precarious grip on eighth (3-4-2, 11 points). Old Dominion (3-4, nine points) and UTSA (3-5, nine points) are tied for 10th. Middle Tennessee (2-7, six points), FIU (1-4-2, five points), Southern Miss (1-5-2, five points) and UAB (1-6-2, five points) round out the standings.

More On The Battle For The Top Eight

Even with Conference USA play nearing an end, from a mathematical standpoint only two teams (Middle Tennessee, 2-7, six points) and UAB (1-6-2, five points) have been eliminated from qualifying for the 2016 C-USA Championships. WKU (7-2, 21 points), North Texas (6-1, 18 points) and Rice (6-2, 18 points) have clinched a bid to the tourney, leaving nine programs playing musical chairs with only five spots left.

Control Own Destiny

While the Conference USA standings are jumbled, UTEP does control its own destiny as far as locking up a bid to the 2016 C-USA championships. With wins in their final two home games (vs. FAU, 12 p.m. MDT Sunday and vs. Southern Miss, 7 p.m. MDT Friday), UTEP is guaranteed to finish among the top eight teams (of 14) and ensure a spot in the league’s pinnacle event.

Scouting Florida Atlantic

Florida Atlantic is 9-6-2 overall on the year, including 5-2-1 in Conference USA play. The Owls have struggled a bit with a 2-5 record on the road, but they are 2-2 in the situation during league play. FAU enters Sunday’s match extremely well rested, having been idle since Oct. 16. It is riding a three-match unbeaten streak (2-0-1), but was defeated, 2-1, at Southern Miss in its last road match on Oct. 6. Sammy Rowland (five goals) paces the attack while Elisha Holmes, Pernille Velta and Mary O’Hara each have a pair of tallies.

The Owls play a defensive style of soccer, rating second in the league for goals against average (0.74) and 13th for goals per game (1.00). They have given up four goals total over their last nine games (6-2-1) but have found the back of the net 10 times in that stretch.

Series History With FAU

UTEP has won all three meetings against Florida Atlantic, each of which have occurred since the Owls joined Conference USA. All three contests have been decided by a 2-1 outcome. UTEP picked up road wins in 2013 (10/6) and 2015 (9/25) and successfully defended its home pitch in 2014 (10/24).

Shutout City

UTEP has recorded nine shutouts on the year. That figure rates tied for second on the program’s single-season records. The school standard (11) was set in 2006 while the 2014 squad also registered nine shutouts.

Defense Does It

UTEP is among the C-USA and national leaders for save percentage (.873-first C-USA/ninth nation)-aided by two team saves- goals against average (0.89-fourth C-USA/67th nation), and shutouts (nine-tied second C-USA).

Palacios Up To The Task

Sophomore GK Alyssa Palacios has emerged as an elite keeper, with simply sensational numbers. She is among the Conference USA and nation’s leaders in save percentage (.871- first C-USA/15th nation), total saves (108-first C-USA/fourth nation), GK minutes played (1669:43-first C-USA/sixth nation) and goals against average (0.86-fourth C-USA/66th nation). She has made at least seven saves in nine contests, including a career-high tying 10 vs. Rice on Oct. 9.

Tightening Things Up

For the first time since a six-game stretch (final five non-conference, first C-USA), Miner netminder Alyssa Palacios has faced 15 or fewer shots at least three straight games.

Balanced Attack In League Play

Nine Miners have helped account for 13 goals during Conference USA play. Kennadie Chaudhary (three goals), Jeanna Mullen and Bri Barreiro (two goals) have multiple tallies while Danielle Carreon, Yesenia Contreras, Lauren Crenshaw, Aleah Davis, Nicole Lindsay and Bri Thomas all have one goal in league action. Overall Thomas still leads with six goals (tied ninth C-USA) while Davis closely follows with five. Davis has shown a flair for the dramatic with four game-winning goals (first C-USA/22nd nation)

Finish Strong

UTEP has done most its damage in the second half of contests this year. The Miners have tallied 19 of their 29 goals on the year in the second half. Overall UTEP has a +13 goal margin (29-16), with a +2 standing (10-8) in the first half and a +12 advantage (19-7) over the final 45 minutes. UTEP is -1 (0-1) in overtime (goal by UAB in double overtime).

Sharing Is Caring

UTEP has been credited with 32 assists (eighth C-USA/63rd nation) on its 29 total goals (eighth C-USA/111th nation) this year. Aleah Davis keys the efforts (seven-tied second C-USA/27th nation) while Kennadie Chaudhary and Bri Thomas are tied for second on the team at four. Bri Barreiro, Lauren Crenshaw and Nicole Lindsay share fourth on the squad with three helpers while Devyn Hunley, Jenna Mullen, Carleigh Simmons and Natalie Valentine each have two assists.

Yesenia Contreras and Aylin Villalobos both have one helper apiece. The last time the Orange and Blue concluded a campaign with more assists than goals was in 2014 (34 assists, 29 goals). The only other such occurrence at UTEP was in 2008 (39 assists, 35 goals).                             

Conference Recognition

UTEP has claimed three Conference USA Players of the Week in 2016, with sophomore Alyssa Palacios netting the C-USA Goalkeeper of the Week twice (Sept. 6 and Sept. 19) and freshman Lauren Crenshaw securing the C-USA Defensive Player of the Week (Sept. 6). Palacios is the first Miner GK to earn multiple weekly honors from the league office since Chandra Morden did so in 2010.

National Recognition

UTEP has recently been recognized by the NSCAA for its performance in the classroom during the ’15-16 scholastic year. The Miners sported a 3.60 GPA, which led Conference USA, and as result have claimed the NSCAA Team Academic Award. It is the sixth straight year that the Miners have been so distinguished.

Winning Ways On Road Continue

The Miners recorded their school-record winning road record by forging a mark of 5-3-2 on the road in 2016. UTEP now stands 21-10-5 on the road since the streak started in 2013.

Getting It Done Out Of Conference

UTEP compiled a mark of 7-1-2 during non-conference action to improve to 106-29-9 before league play since the start of the 2002 season. The Miners have now posted a winning record in non-conference action for 15 straight seasons.

The Basic Facts

UTEP is in its 21st season as a program, boasting an all-time record of 237-154-30, including 11-5-2 this year. The Miners are under the direction of 16th-year head coach Kevin Cross, who sports a mark of 195-106-23 in that timeframe. He is assisted by two former Miners (Heather Clark and Jessie Pettit). UTEP returned 12 letter winners, including nine starters, from last year’s team (11-7-2, 4-4-2 C-USA).

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